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Anastasios 'Tom' Kukuliatas, longtime restaurateur
March 12, 1927 -- Sept. 25, 2009

Anastasios "Tom" Kukuliatas, who fed Western New Yorkers for years as founder and owner of Tom's Family Restaurant in Amherst, died Friday in his Town of Tonawanda home. He was 82.

Mr. Kukuliatas was born in Siatista, Greece, and was a sergeant in the Greek army during the Korean War.

He came to the United States in 1955, first settling in Seattle.

But in 1969, Mr. Kukuliatas moved to Buffalo, where he established Tom's Texas Red Hots, a 24-hour restaurant in the city's Riverside section that catered to factory workers from the nearby Chevrolet and Dunlop plants.

The restaurant closed in 1979, a couple of years after Mr. Kukuliatas opened a second restaurant on Military Road and Sheridan Drive in the Town of Tonawanda. He left that location in 1982, not long after opening Tom's Family Restaurant -- "Home of the Souvlaki" -- at Sheridan Drive and Bailey Avenue in Amherst, which remains open today.

Longtime patrons would follow him from location to location, each introducing a new generation to Tom's restaurant.

Mr. Kukuliatas' daughter and son-in-law took over the business when he retired in 1996.

He and his wife, Theologia Lioukas Kukuliatas, spent winters in Clearwater Beach, Fla., but he was happy to return to Western New York during the summer, when he would stop by the restaurant to mingle with customers or cash them out.

Surviving in addition to his wife of 50 years are two daughters, Dora K. Wisniewski and Sandra T. Ladas.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, 1000 Delaware Ave.

[REY]

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